Common Running Injuries: Achilles Tendonitis

I’ve been in a bit of a frustrating season with my running lately. I feel like I’ve had one issue after another, from minor annoyances to broken toes to a pesky spine to irritating hips to an achilles issue. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Who knows. I’m trying to be smart and level headed, while still allowing myself to set goals and train accordingly. I know it’s hard not to get discouraged when your body doesn’t show up and cooperate, but the most important thing to do is listen. Listen when it says rest. Listen when it says something is going on that needs attention. Listen when it says you need to make adjustments. Or stop. Or shift gears. To be a smarter runner, you have to pay attention.

I got an email from a reader, new to my blog,  who also has a running blog, asking if she could write a guest post about achilles tendonitis. Since this is an issue I’ve been having, I said yes! Plus, I enjoy connecting with ya’ll and reading from someone else’s perspective. Bella has written an informative article on achilles tendonitis and has also provided some stretches and exercises you can use to treat this pesky injury. If you are dealing with achilles issues, patience is key. Tendons get much less blood flow and tend to take longer to heal, so don’t push it. Do your exercises and give it time, you’ll be back on the road or trails before you know it!!!

Here’s Bella’s post on achilles tendonitis. You can visit her blog by clicking here.


Exercises to prevent and treat Achilles Tendonitis in running

Achilles Tendonitis is a common foot injury for athletes and those who partake in physical and vigorous activities. Most tennis and basketball players complain of Achilles Tendonitis.   You will appreciate the value of your tendon the moment it gets injured. The Achilles is composed of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect the heel bone to the calf muscles. The concept is that, when we walk or run, the muscles contract pulling the cord. This action causes the bone to move allowing us to make movements with ease. You can click here to understand more about Achilles Tendonitis as well as other common foot injuries.

Identifying Achilles Tendonitis

Before attempting exercises you heard about from a friend, it’s beneficial for you to know the symptoms of an achilles injury. Do you feel pain in your calf muscles or tendon? Is the pain severe in the morning or evening? These are just a few signs that point to a potential Achilles tendon injury. You can treat and prevent Achilles tendonitis with a few simple exercises.

Here are some activities to help prevent and/or manage Achilles tendonitis. 

Calf plantar fascia stretch

While seated, stretch your legs and ensure that your knees are not bent. Identify the toes that hurt and place a towel underneath while holding the ends of the towel with both of your hands. With the sides above your knees and in the same position, gradually pull the edge of the towel such that your foot is drawn towards you and hold for about 30 seconds. 

During the beginning of the exercise, you may feel pain which will subside as you repeat the tasks on a daily basis up-to four times in a day.

Calf stretch

With this exercise, you will need a sturdy or rigid surface like a wall.  Lean forward on the rigid surface with your hands. Step back with one of your legs with the heel flat on the ground. Remember to keep the leg straight. Push forward gently while bending the forward leg. You should feel some strain on the back of the straight leg. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise at least three times for each leg. Regular stretching helps you avoid injuries in all sports and specifically in running. You can click here for more benefits of stretching. 

You can conduct The Gastrocnemius stretch in the same way. With the help of a wall lean forward with the support of your hands.  Step back with one leg and lower your body slightly. Push forward, while achieving deeper stretches. You will feel a stretch at the back of your calf down to your heel. These exercises are good for plantar fasciitis and heel pain  as well. 

Toe stretch

The toe stretch activity is very straightforward.  Sit on a chair with your heels resting on the ground. Lean forward and pull on the big toe towards the ankle. Push the toe back down again and repeat the motion at least three times. You need to hold the toe for thirty seconds when pulling and pushing. It is best to conduct the exercise as often as possible.

The toe scrunch activity is another beneficial movement and is quite easy. While in a seated position, try picking up a pencil with your toes and hold it for about 30 seconds. This simple exercise allows you to stretch the joints of your feet and helps prevent an occurrence of Achilles tendonitis, metatarsalgia and other common foot injuries.

Stair stretch exercise

As the name suggests, this stretch requires a raised surface similar to a stair.  Stand on your feet just at the balls near the toes, at the edge of the stairs or elevated surface. As it is difficult to maintain balance at this spot, you can hold onto a hard surface to help you stay in position.

It is vital that you stretch your injured leg during the exercise and gradually drop it below the surface of the stairs and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your calf, if not, you are not doing it correctly.

You can carry out the Soleus heel drop in the same way as the stair stretch. However, unlike the stair stretch, the soleus heel drop activity requires you to bend the knee to about 45°. With the knee bent, raise the heel of the injured leg and lower to the horizontal position. Repeat the exercise 15 times each side. 

The pain will sting; believe me, but it will benefit you more in the end than any other exercise.


Heel-walking is something you can do from the comfort of your home. You can practice heel-walking to release tension on your heels which can cause Achilles tendonitis. In simple terms, this exercise requires you to walk on your heels with the toes lifted and pointing out to the sides. Walk in this position for 2 minutes while taking breaks when needed.

Donkey kicks

The good thing about this exercise is that it is fun to practice. On a yoga mat, come onto all 4’s, keeping your back flat. Lift your injured leg off the mat and press your heel up towards the sky. Draw it back in towards your torso and repeat. Do this on both sides 2-3x through. 

Having Achilles Tendonitis should not bring your athletic career to a standstill. With these simple exercises, you will be good as new in no time and at the same time prevent the recurrence of the injury.

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Bella. I’m a running coach and I have a major passion for running.
It is my goal to use this blog to inject insight, running ideas and personal experiences to relate to other runners in the community.
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Thanks so much Bella!